Series Preview: Reds @ Mets

An article by posted on May 16, 2012

There’s nothing like a little controversy to keep us all busy for the next 6+ hours before first pitch tonight huh?

Doesn’t it seem like whenever the Mets lose the final game of a series, there is always that “how will they bounce back from ____?”

Whether it be a bullpen disaster, injuries, or a dispute in the dugout. They always make it interesting don’t they?

Tonight, the odd 2 game NL Central theme continues. The Cincinnati Reds are headed into town!

The Reds were picked by many to win the NL Central, so yet another test for our beloved NY Mets!

The last time the Mets saw the Reds at Citi Field, Jose Reyes was walking off the field to preserve a batting title and ensure fans didn’t get their money’s worth.

Wednesday, 7:10pm: Mike Leake v. Johan Santana

Mike Leake is having an atrocious season thus far! He’s 0-5 with an ERA over 7. Leake has (or had) a lot of promise heading into this year, and he has just left everybody in Cincinnati wondering what happened?

The Reds right now, live and die by Joey Votto’s bat. Currently Votto is hitting .311, with a .465 on base and .571 slugging! Jay Bruce is the only other power source for this Reds team right now, and though his season stats may fool you, his last 16 games have been impressive!

The Reds will see Johan Santana, and isn’t that just perfect for the Mets? After a controversy, the Mets give the ball to their ace and say “Make it go away.”

Santana is 4-0 against the Reds, and for the most part has dominated everybody in this lineup.

Thursday, 1:10pm: Mat Latos v. R.A. Dickey

The Mets will see the Reds recently acquired arm in Mat Latos. It will be no easy task for Latos though, as he goes toe-to-toe with R.A. Dickey. Dickey looks to become only the 5th big leaguer with 6 wins.

VIEW FROM THEIR WINDOW

I gotta tell ya. I am really impressed with Kris Vigneron from redreporter.com! I asked 5 questions, and the responses were so good that I honestly had writer’s block when writing this series preview, because I didn’t know what MORE I could say. Well done Kris, and thank you!

1) In Game 1 of the series, Mike Leake is throwing for the Reds. He’s 0-5 and has had maybe 1 good start (Pittsburgh) all year. What’s going on with him?

The short answer here is “small sample size”. He basically had a bad month. More specifically though, it seems that he’s been having a hard time locating his pitches. He is a prototypical finesse pitcher, succeeding by painting the corners and keeping the ball down. He hasn’t been able to do that so far this season, and opposing teams are teeing off on him.

He’s elevating pitches and living dangerously in the heart of the zone, and his 11.4 H/9 so far this season is testament to that. Even worse, it’s not like he’s just giving up singles. He’s surrendered 20 XBH already. They are hitting him hard and often, and consequently the discontent is growing louder in the throats of Reds fans.

It’s worth repeating though that we are talking about 31.2 innings. He’s had rough stretches before, and I’ll wager this won’t be his last. Unfortunately for him, Aroldis Chapman will need a rotation spot soon and Leake’s looking like the low man on the totem poll.

2) As a Reds fan, if you could pluck one Mets player and put him on your roster, who would it be and why?

No question, it’s David Wright. 3B is a glaring weak spot for the Reds, with Scott Rolen being old, broken, and really old. Jersey boy Todd Frazier is filling in for him now, and that’s not all bad. He’s a former #1 prospect in the Reds system and appears to be able to handle the position adequately.

But Wright is like so totally awesome bats right now. He’s hitting like Joey Votto and he’s doing it right-handed. The most pressing need in the lineup right now is for a right-handed power bat to slot in between Votto and Jay Bruce (Dusty Baker is loathe to hit his lefties back-to-back), and the two most uncertain positions on the field for the Reds are LF and 3B. It’s kizmet. We want him.

3) Do you see the Reds sticking with Marshall in the closer role or possibly going shopping this summer?

I personally have no problem with Marshall as closer. He looks like the same old guy who has been one of the best relievers in baseball the past few years, aside from a few unlucky home runs given up and an extremely unlucky .441 BABIP. He’s still striking everyone out, not walking anyone, and inducing buckets of weak ground balls. He’s great.

But while I’m not concerned that the Reds will go shopping for a closer this summer, I’m afraid they might find one in-house. Aroldis Chapman is pitching like no other pitcher I’ve ever seen (I figure you all will get a kick out of this strikeout of Jason Heyward from the other night), and I’m worried that they may be tempted to install him as closer. I think his future is brightest as a starter, and I’m still convinced that the Reds’ FO agrees, but I’m still worried nevertheless. If he starts closing games, I don’t think he’ll ever stop.

4) Who has been more disappointing, Brandon Phillips or Ryan Ludwick?

Well, Ludwick has sucked more, but my expectations for BP were far greater. I never expected much out of Ludwick to begin with, so I can’t really say I’m disappointed in him. He’s hitting about as well as I figured he would. But he signed for cheap, so whatever.

Phillips inked that lucrative extension at the beginning of the season, so the pressure is on him to not, you know, suck big honky apples like he has been. Again, small sample size caveats apply, but I’d really like to see him hit like he did last year.

I think moving him down to the clean-up spot has really effected his swing. He tends to try to hit for more power when he’s hitting clean-up, and consequently he swings out of his shoes frequently. When he was hitting lead-off last year, he was much more focused on making contact and was able to drive the ball the other way quite a bit. He’s not doing that now, and it’s to the detriment of everyone.

Dusty Baker seems to think he needs a righty to split up Votto and Bruce (Did I mention that I want David Wright? ‘caaaaaaauuuuuuuse I do), and since Ludwick and Rolen haven’t worked, BP has been hitting there for a while. Unfortunately, he’s not working either. I think he’ll start progressing back to his career norms soon, but it really can’t happen soon enough.

5) If the Reds win the series, who is the player of the series? If the Reds lose the series, who is to blame?

Don’t over-think this one. Joey Votto is the best hitter in the National League, and as he goes, so go the Reds. And he’s gonna be a Red for a really, really long time, and I just think that’s the tops. I’m embroidering a picture of his face onto a pillow right now and when I’m finished, I’m going to send it to him and ask him if he’ll sign it. He is so the best. So yeah, he never gets out, so he’s going to key any and all Reds wins this week and for many years to come.

If they lose though, it will be everyone else’s fault. As noted above, Mike Leake has struggled mightily thus far, so another shaky performance from him today will likely mean the L for the Redlegs.

The top of the order has not hit well lately either, as Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs have gone cold. If they don’t start hitting, Votto won’t have any choice but to hit like 10 solo home runs. Which would be kinda cool, but not totally cool.

Series Summary

Tonight’s game is much bigger for this team than tomorrow. Last night’s defeat was embarrassing on so many different levels. A win tonight means everybody moves on from the Terry/David “drama.” A loss will just continue to let that monster grow.

I believe the Reds have more talent on their team than the Mets, but I believe the Mets are getting more out of their talent than the Reds are. Hitters like Phillips, Stubbs, Ludwick, and Mesoraco are having rough seasons thus far.

The Reds bullpen is dangerous. Chapman, Ondrusek, Hoover and Simon have allowed a combined 5 earned runs in 57.2 innings of work.

In fact, I’ll feel MORE comfortable with a close game if Marshall is given the ball, than any of the guys listed above. I smell a 9th inning comeback win in the next 2 days.

The Mets will head to Toronto for interleague play after this series concludes.

OVER/UNDER RUNS:: (7-2 on the season) Tonight’s over/under is set to 7. Before I saw that, I thought a 4-3 win was in store for the Mets. So sticking with that number, I have to assume a 7.5 is tomorrow’s line. So 14.5 for the series, I’m going to take the UNDER.

METS POTS::There’s no way I’m avoiding Wright here. He is gonna have a big series.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON::Miguel Cairo. I know, what? He always seems to find a way to hurt the Mets. He’s back from the DL as of Monday, and he has a nice history against both Santana and Dickey.

I’LL BE DRINKING A::: Newcastle Brown Ale!

Enjoy the series, and Let’s Go Mets!

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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